Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal play as many as five matches a day on the professional beach volleyball tour, so they don’t have much time to celebrate their wins or stew over losses.
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At the Olympics, the games come every other day.
”It’s hard to sit on it for two days,” Rosenthal said Wednesday after the Americans bounced back from their only loss of the preliminary round to beat Latvia in straight sets. ”Normally we’d be out there in a few hours.”
The Americans beat Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Ruslans Sorokins 21-10, 21-16 to finish atop their pool and advance to the knockout round. The U.S. pair, which finished fifth in Beijing, was in danger of being eliminated entirely after losing to Poland and falling to 1-1.
The light Olympic schedule gave them time to work on some of the mistakes they made in their second match.
But it also gave them too much time to second-guess themselves.
”You think of every match as a final, almost,” Gibb said. ”It’s not as cool when you lose.”
In other men’s beach volleyball play on Wednesday, Martin Spinnangr and Tarjei Viken Skarlund of Norway beat Steve Grotowski and John Garcia-Thompson of Britain, 22-20, 21-13. The hosts finished pool play 0-3 and did not win a set, coming closest on Wednesday before the final point of the first set rolled along the tape on top of the net and fell onto their side, just inside the line.
Even so, Grotowski said the Olympics were the highlight of his career.
”I’ve never experienced so many people cheering for me,” he said. ”It is unimaginable for an athlete to compete in an atmosphere like this. That in itself was worth it.
”We’ll be depressed and try to talk about what could have been, but it’s still good to be here – to be a part of Team GB. … We’ll go away and hold our heads high. But we definitely had more to give.”
Also Wednesday in the men’s bracket, Poland beat South Africa in straight sets; Russia beat China 29-27, 17-21, 15-12; Brazilians Ricardo and Pedro beat Canada in straight sets, and Germany beat Sascha Heyer and Seba Chevallier of Switzerland in two sets, too.
In women’s action, Germans Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler beat Mauritius in straight sets; defending bronze medalists Xue Chen and Zhang Xi of China beat Greece in straight sets; Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova of Russia beat Switzerland, 21-17, 19-21, 15-9; and top-seeded Juliana and Larissa of Brazil beat the Czechs in straight sets.